One hundred eighth grade students refused to be photographed with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan during a field trip to the nation’s capital because they “didn’t want to be associated with a person who puts his party before his country,” as one student put it.
According to reporting, roughly half of the 200 students who traveled from South Orange Middle School in New Jersey protested the photo-op on Thursday, watching instead from a parking lot across the street.
“It’s not just a picture,” eighth grade student Matthew Malespina told the local ABC News affiliate. “It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country.”
Malespina’s mother, who also spoke to reporters, explained how her son had texted her ahead of time to let her know that he planned to sit out. “I think the point is that I don’t want to be associated with him and his polices,” Elissa Malespina said.
Unaware of the sizable boycott, Ryan posted a picture with himself shaking hands with some of the South Orange students to his Instagram on Friday.